Photo © Katie Gregory
To the teacher at my son's new nursery, who phoned to tell me he had settled almost immediately after a particularly awful drop-off this morning, thank you.
Thank you for knowing that, an hour after I walked away from him - as he cried and kicked and screamed his way through another defiant display on the other side of the window - his sobs still echoed in my head. As I sipped a cup of tea and started wading through the day's tasks, I saw his little hand, pressed up against the glass, printed on my memory like a painting.
Thank you for seeing that, when I faked an it'll-be-okay smile and fumbled with the lock on the nursery gate, there were tears prickling my eyes, threatening to unravel me.
Thank you for knowing that, while he might just be another little boy in a sea of tiny faces, this one is my little boy. This is the one who hugs me so tight it hurts, and whispers I love you into my ear so close it tickles my eardrum. This is the one who makes me a little bit prouder every day, and who I love with a fierceness I never knew existed.
Thank you for spotting him right from the start, frozen in panic in the doorway, swallowed up in a chorus of chatters and shouts, lost in a flurry of winter coats and hurried goodbyes. For noticing him crumpled in a puddle of tears - again - that child at nursery who always makes a fuss.
Thank you for being patient with me, just another mum walking the tightrope between wanting to soothe and settle, and knowing that staying only seems to make it worse. For gently urging me to go, when his grip loosened on my leg long enough for me to slip out the door, even though it felt like there was an elastic band stretched tightly between us.
Thank you for not making me feel worse, when I know this scene has played out for you a hundred times before - the forest of handprints on the window a smudged reminder.
And thank you for remembering me now - an hour later - and reassuring me when I know you don't have the time to. We both know it's just a phase, that he'll be fine, but today I needed to hear it.
Because of you, today, when my mind wanders back to him between the phone calls, the emails and the to-do lists that unfurl like ribbons, I'll picture his body crouched over a puzzle, his face buried in a book, his hands sticky with glue and glitter. And I'll smile.
Today you saw this frazzled mum's heavy heart and you made it lighter.
Thank you. Because you have no idea how grateful I am.
This post first appeared on There We Go, a blog about parenting, family travel and family life.